Must Women Keep Silent in the Church?
(Ver 1.6) Some may have noticed that this website does not avoid controversy. I believe we need to learn everything possible about every subject and take on even the difficult or controversial Bible subjects that many like to ignore or abuse. The Bible has some very difficult things written in it and on the surface the subject of a woman teaching and preaching in the church, is certainly viewed as one example of those. Vast numbers of people with limited knowledge of the Bible, have long proclaimed their dominant doctrine over allowing women preachers and teachers, in the church. This is a very legalistic Old Covenant approach to understanding the rest of the Bible and the New Covenant age of Grace. Hopefully everyone understands the Bible is divided into two major divisions of covenant relationship. The Old Covenant is dominated by laws, commandments, rules, and words that were to be followed to the letter. But Jesus came to fulfill this law and He has accomplished this, and in implementing the New Covenant relationship with mankind, He has brought about a brand-new creation that never existed before. Please keep this truth in your mind as a foundation when studying this subject of women’s roles in the church, to avoid extreme legalism.
The Old Covenant legalism viewpoint and attitude is placing all women in only subservient roles that appear to be based upon prejudiced or biased legal opinions. What causes alleged Christian people to think this way? The answer to wrong extreme legal thinking and believing, is not knowing who we all are, “In Christ”.
We should all know and understand that in the Kingdom of God there is always order. God is not a God of chaos, disorder or rebellion. What we will find with diligent Bible study, is that many people that believe women must always be silent in the church forever, only read a very few select, and limited number of scriptures that they whole hardly embrace, proclaiming them as the final basis of all their beliefs on this important subject. This of course forces people to ignore vast numbers of other scriptures that do not align with their desired doctrinal outcome or definition of their beliefs. We must understand that the Bible is a book of more than one scripture, and one truth. One of the greatest errors in understanding the correct interpretation of any subject, is to not take a single truth and make it the only truth higher than all others.
In studying the Bible on any subject, it is very wise to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into the fuller knowledge of His truth on any subject before we begin to read and study it. Then we must also ask the Holy Spirit to help us balance every verse on the subject, that He leads us to study. Finally ask the Holy Spirit to show us things that we have never seen before on this subject to grow our understanding of His truth.
If in our deep study of any Bible subject, if there is ever one scripture that He leads us to that we have never seen before, and this verse disagrees with our current beliefs, or one verse that we do not completely understand enough about the subject of women, then we must pray and ask again for the Holy Spirit to help us better understand what He wants us to know about that verse. It is only the Holy Spirit that can reveal something as truth, and He can resolve any and every conflict or controversy that we can encounter with other church members. God is the author of the book, and only He knows every verse, and every word and how they apply to the subject of women’s roles in the church.
Let us begin today by asking the Lord, have we ever studied the Bible on every scripture reference on the subject of women in the Bible? Then ask yourself and the Lord, “Do I totally understand every scripture in the Bible on the subject of women?” We should all believe and say that there is no way that any of us have studied and know everything about this complete subject enough to call our self an expert on the subject. The Bible is way too complex for anyone to say they know it all, except for God.
So how is it that there are some people in the church that can get up to teach and claim that women are not permitted to preach or teach in the church based upon their very limited knowledge on the subject? Please ask the question, who died and made these people higher than God to judge anyone else? Is not God the only person living that completely knows and understand the entire Bible to judge anyone? Be as wise as the man in Acts 5:39 “If this be of God, we cannot overthrow it, lest haply you be found to even fight against God”.
It would also be wise for these types of judging people to learn a lesson from the book of Job. God asked Job, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words with no knowledge?” When people teach that a woman is incapable of teaching or preaching the Word of God, I believe that this implies that they believe women do not have the brains or mental capacity to know or understand the truth of the Word of God. It would also imply that they believe women cannot ever hear from God and therefore should not even be praying to God. In other words, it comes across that women are not able to go directly to God to listen for His leading because they should only go directly through their husbands or the other men in the church first to hear God’s voice. Is this how God operates?
What a potential arrogant, and superior attitude of pride that attitude could possibly represent! It should remind us of the church in the dark ages, when only a trained priest was believed to be capable of understanding the Bible. In these days no one else was even allowed to read the Bible. What controlling spirit in that time of the church age, were they dominated by? Do you remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees? In Luke 11:52, Jesus said “Woe unto you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge. You have not entered in yourself, and you have hindered those that were entering in”. Perhaps we need to also read Jeremiah 31:34 that is quoted in Hebrews 8:11. In this verse, God writes to the church, that “everyone” will know Him, from the least to the greatest”. This would certainly include women. Therefore, we all know that women hear from God as well as any man.
People can be too dogmatic when it comes to a deep Bible study discussion like this. Please do not be so engrained into a deep trench of traditional human beliefs, that you are dug in too deep to get yourself out of it. What we are going to do is go through some key Bible verses that are often ignored or purposefully overlooked to examine what else God says in regard to references of His usages of women in the Bible and His selected roles for them.
Have you ever had a Godly woman influence you? I can only personally speak a testimony about women that have influenced me. I will tell you that if it were not for good Christian women in the church, I would probably not be here today teaching the Word of God. I believe that it was only because of their direct prayers, help, involvement and their leadings from God in ministry that I am even here today to write this lesson. So, I appreciate whoever God uses and I refuse to put limitations on what God can do through anyone. Let’s focus upon the root scriptures of controversy first:
1Ti 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
So here we go with the first doctrinal classic verse, about shut up and just learn silently in the church, speech. However, perhaps we need to know some basic facts. The Greek word G1135, translated as “women” is predominately speaking to married wives in relationship to their husbands sitting under the teaching of the Lord’s Word together. This verse must be applied to this application first. With futher study we will discover that Paul is addressing a very specific cultural issue in this verse for the time of the early church. In that culture women sat on one side of the church and men on the other side of the church. This would cause a great number of issues during the church service causing disordered distraction to everyone present. Therefore, Paul wanted everyone to be silent while the Word was going forth.
If anyone is distracted, talking to others while the Word of God is being taught, is anyone learning anything? No, of course not! This was the situation in this letter. Paul was addressing a very specific problem of distraction in a very specific Church, and he was not establishing a broader New Covenant law that women can’t ever talk. If the problem was that it was the males were talking in church, then I believe Paul would have said, you talking and distracting men keep quiet and learn. Humans both male and female were designed by God with a mouth, a mind, and the ability to talk and communicate intelligently, so to say a woman can’t ever talk in church, is very ignorant and domineering.
So now this verse ends in the word “subjection” and this is not a bad word. It means you are “not in control” and you are “not the head”. Everyone on this planet is in subjection to someone or something. This word applies to men equally and as strong as to women. If you have ever been in the military, you understand “subjection”. You follow orders from the day you join to the day you leave. You are not there to do anything but to follow orders. The corporate business world is very similar, but some people do get paid to be creative and come up with new ideas. However, this does not mean they can do whatever they want, whenever they want and to whoever they want. They still have to be submissive to those that they are working for. To be submissive is a normal way of life; it promotes order and a chain of command for authority, and this further designates who has responsibility as well as accountability.
Even the CEO of a large public company is accountable to the stockholders. There is really no one on the earth that is in complete control of anything. Submission is not a negative thing, and it should never be used to force anyone to do anything that they do not want to do or keep them from doing what God calls and desires them to do. Learn from God’s example, the utmost highest Spiritual Being who came to the earth in the flesh and while He was here, He washed the feet of His disciples. Please don’t make yourself better than God. If you are not serving someone else, you have become deceived.
1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
So here we go with another “Thus saith the Lord”! Oh yea, it doesn’t say God said this, it says Paul said this using the personal pronoun “I’ and that knowledge could make these words mean something very different. Did you know that it is possible, that Paul could have a personal opinion or belief, that could be his own and potentially biased or even wrong? Was Paul God? Did Paul know everything? Remember in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that Paul wrote that he and all of the rest of us are currently only seeing things through a glass darkly, and he personally said, that we only know the truth in “part”. Wow, that is an amazing revelation to apply to each of us personally. We need not think too highly of our self, and we believe that we know and understand everything about any Bible subject.
I would like to give you something new to consider. Did Paul when He was writing his letters, know that his personal words written in letters to his believing friends in churches, that God usee him to establish, were going to be taught in the future as God’s Holy Word and even combined and compiled together into a new greater “New Testament” with other 7 other writers? I personally do not believe that Paul had any knowledge that his personal letters, that were written to his friends in a few churches would be compiled and bound into a new book called the New Testament. If Paul considered these letters to be the official Bible, why would he not have written this in these letters? Also, why are there so many personal references to names of his special friends? Why in 2 Timothy 4:13, does Paul write and ask for someone to bring him his Coat that he left in Troas. He also asks for some special books and parchments to be brought to him. I find these types of personal references, to show us that Paul did not understand that what he was writing was God’s inspired Word. That does not mean it is NOT God’s inspired word, it only means, it is possible that Paul did not know that it was.
If God would have told Paul directly that this was happening, Paul would not have been living by faith, or walking by faith. Paul very clearly said, “the just shall live by faith”, quoting an Old Testament verse. In Acts 17:11 when Paul was preaching, he called the church at Berea more noble because they showed the diligence to verify what he was saying by finding it in the Old Covenant Hebrew writings. This tells us, that Paul believed those written Hebrew words were to be considered God’s inspired scripture containing God’s Word. But it should also tell us that even Paul needed the Old Covenant writings to confirm what he was teaching to the churches. DO NOT misunderstand what is being said, Paul’s words are certainly inspired words, but not all of them are to be considered, “Thus saith the LORD”.
Let us look at some other translations of 1 Timothy 2:12. The Modern King James Version says, “I forbid a woman to teach”. Again this represents a personal opinionated choice of Paul. The New American Standard Bible says, “I do not allow a woman to teach”. No mention of God’s command here either. The American Standard Versions says, “I permit not a woman to teach”. These are all common translations that harmonize together. There is no contradiction between any of the translations that it was only Paul’s opinion being given to the church for that specific day and that specific culture.
Were Paul’s personal views and words shaped by his life’s experiences and the culture of the surrounding world influences? I believe they were just as our views have a basis of our own cultural surroundings and influences. Please do not misunderstand me. I have no doubt that these words were inspired by God to be written down, but I believe that does not mean God said them. If we believe that every word in the Bible is a commandment from God, then we need to understand the Bible a lot more. There are quotations given by Satan who we know is a liar. Therefore, these are not instructions to follow or obey. Then there are a lot of quotes from men like Job, that we should know that he was rebuked by God for saying.
There are literally too many examples to teach them all that are found in the Bible. But I will mention a great example to learn from found in 1 Corinthians 7:6-12. In these verses Paul was very clear to teach us how he literally flipped into writing about his own personal opinion on the subject of marriage and divorce. Uh oh, this is speaking of husbands and wives again like we were reading about in Timothy. Please go and read these verses carefully and observe how Paul said, “I say, not the LORD” and other times “not I, but the Lord says“. This is just one great example that we need to learn from, to show how we must rightly divide the Word of Truth, and how easy it could be to wrongly divide the Word of truth.
Before we continue any further, please go and read the surrounding contextual verses to see what they say and how they fit with women being silent. Notice in verse 9 of 1 Timothy 2, Paul writes that women should dress moderately. So far so good for a lot of church women, but for others even this Pauline suggestion is not followed. But then Paul writes that women should not be wearing gold or pearls. Uh, oh? What just happened, how many women are following these as commandments. All of the sudden we have a Burger King religion of have it our way, or only eat selective doctrines we like from a larger buffet containing some choices that we don’t like. We eat from the words we like and the words we don’t like we leave alone. But to give notice, there are no quotations of “Thus Saith the LORD” in these words either. But we can still learn things to apply to us from them all.
Let’s talk about the Bible cultural influences that could have been used to contribute to the meanings of the Words written on the pages. In ancient days, were women ever in charge of anything when Paul wrote this? You can find a few instances of women like Esther, Jezebel, and Cleopatra who were in the world realm of royal power to have some very significant influence, power and authority for God and the devil. But for the most part, it was a total male-controlled world. There are many religions in the world that still hold to this domineering male philosophy, and I like to watch what the devil does to people in the world to learn from how he wants to pervert things to oppose God’s ways. Satan’s ways are usually the opposite of God’s ways. Satan seems to either want to keep women totally ignorant in a slave type of relationship or exalt them to the top of the food chain and make them run everything independently of male partnership. It is either total submission like in countries of Afghanistan or Iran, or total women’s liberation and independence like in Europe and parts of America. I believe both are perverted wrongs of extremism and the truth of God must be somewhere balanced in the middle. What I would like to say is if Satan uses women for his perversion, who says it is not possible for God to use women for His glory, righteousness and Holy purposes? If God is doing anything that resembles what the devil is trying to do in the world to women, that should raise a concern in our spirit, for us to ask when did God and Satan begin to agree on anything?
Only a few Christian churches seem to have the correct perspective of a balanced approach of the truth being somewhere in the middle. So here is another problem, I have heard from many extreme preachers and teachers that these verses written to Timothy should be interpreted that all women must not teach but rather to sit and keep silent in the church. According to correct Bible interpretation rules I need another witness that says this is the law of truth and so far I have not found it. The Bible says in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses let every word be established and here we read one passage and people want to make it the rule of their doctrine and force everyone to adhere to it.
I searched through every N.T. verse that had any form of the word “teach” and this is the only verse that I found with the word woman used in this regard. I find that to be a major problem with some people’s interpretation. If anyone is trying to take one verse out of context and make it a rule of law, that does not work for me. So let’s look at some other verses in the Bible and see what God says about women and see if we can come up with a balanced approach to this subject. Let us turn to the book of Acts and see how the early church is described.
Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
In this verse in Acts, Peter is quoting the Word of God from the Prophet Joel. Right there we learn that this means we will possess two direct witnesses to what this verse says. So we are clearly on a much safer and firmer ground for our interpretation. Do you understand that concept? It is so very important. According to this verse, God will in the last days pour out His Spirit upon “ALL FLESH”! This verse would certainly include both women as well as men as you can clearly see. This verse continues to say that both your sons and your daughters would “prophesy”. So, let’s stop right there and ask the question what does it mean to “prophesy”? Can you or I prophesy in silence? No clearly this verse involves women opening their mouth and making audible sounds that can be heard by anyone present.
What is the difference between teaching people with the spoken words from the Bible which were given by the Spirit of God and prophesying with the words potentially inspired by the Spirit of God in a church? Can you think of any differences? Isn’t prophesying the act of speaking words out loud to someone else so that they can hear them? Then what is the definition of teaching? Isn’t teaching speaking out loud words for other people to hear? It would be useless for a woman to prophesy without someone present to hear her. Uh oh? You can automatically and quickly see that this verse directly conflicts with Paul’s declared command to keep silent. You also have to remember that Paul did not really tell women to keep silent, he said to “learn in silence” and that is something completely different than to never say anything. Let us see another example in the book of Acts that brings further confirmation:
Act 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
These 4 daughters were the children of Phillip the evangelist. We are clearly told that they were able to prophesy to others. This clearly means speaking out loud in an audible voice that can be heard and even directed at the men that were there in the house. Did you know that the early church met in houses? They did not have any synagogues, temples or church buildings to meet at, so they met in houses. If the daughters of Phillip prophesied in the house they were probably doing it during a church service. So we have a huge issue with should a woman always keep silent in the church. Please allow me to ask again, what is the technical difference between teaching and prophesying? Is there a difference? Are not both spoken words directed at listeners? I will also say this, if you do not have women prophesying in your church services, you do not have a complete New Testament church. You have deviated from God’s original plan observed in the book of Acts in favor of your ideas of order. Let us now approach this subject from a new direction and see how God teaches us something new to consider.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
According to the Bible, God says that we are all His children. So, does God play favorites? Are the male children preferred above the female children? If you think that they are you are clearly in need of learning the truth. Let us keep reading:
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
We can continue down this chapter and see that every Christian has been baptized into Christ and that makes us ALL one with Him equally. This is an all-inclusive statement that includes both males and females. Then notice what God says about us all:
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
So here we go with another paradox and puzzle being presented. God says to us, that In Christ males and females are not different. But in the world, we can all clearly see that males and females are quite different, and even treated as such. This teaches us a new foundational difference, between Christians who are natural thinkers versus Christians who are carnal thinkers. We know in the world there are both males and females, but God claims in the spiritual dimension in Christ, we are all just members of one body. There is no difference within the Spirit realm from each other. I personally believe that men who teach male dominance usually are just very carnally minded individuals who look at external things and do not try to see things spiritually as God sees things.
If ignorant Bible teachers would just please read and study their Bible’s to see things within the Spirit and not in the flesh and how God sees them, they would discover that the church is called the “Bride of the Lamb”. Jesus is plainly revealed to be the Bridegroom of the church in the Spirit realm New Covenant (Luk 5:34-35). If you are a male preacher, does that bother you, to be called a spiritual woman bride of Christ? I think it does to many carnal naturally thinking people. But this means we (the church) are all collectively called one woman in the eyes of God. This is not something new. God did the exact same thing with the natural nation of Israel, calling Himself their husband, implying they were all His wife. So we are all in covenant and in subjection to our Head who is the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 5:24).
So how can Paul write that women should not teach in one place in the Bible and then write there is no difference between men and women in Christ in another place? If you do not understand the major conflict between these two contrasting and opposing statements, then you do not realize that we have a significant problem that God can only resolve.
Here is my opinion and I usually do not give you my opinion so you do not have to take anything to heart that I say next in this paragraph. I think from a natural perspective that men counseling women or women counseling men privately should never be done under any circumstance. There are just too many potential problems that could occur. I have seen the best married pastors get into physical affairs with women because of this natural physical and emotional attraction that God created within us. Women should counsel women, and men should counsel men. This just makes the most logical and common sense approach to me. So, I believe firmly that counseling between opposite sexed individuals in the privacy of an office type setting should never be done under any circumstances. By avoiding the appearance of evil, men and women will not fall into these types of traps that Satan can use against them. However, what people do in a public church service is not limited by these natural types of rules. That was my opinion and there is no extra charge for that. So let us see what else the Bible says about women:
Tit 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
This verse is directed at mature women, but I was shocked at how it ended. To be a teacher of “good” things implies strongly that women have the ability and can teach. In fact, it clearly implies these women should be teachers. It further implies that these women have gained some wisdom that is worthy to be taught to others. Obviously, we have another verse that goes against the broad concept of a “keep silent” verse that some like to focus upon. So, we have another potential conflict of whether women should teach or women should never teach.
Tit 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
Here we have the follow up to the previous verse and it clearly says that it is OK for women to teach other women. Now it is interesting that this verse directly contradicts again that a woman should keep silent that some try to teach as the only gospel truth. If a woman has the ability to teach another woman, then she must also have the ability to teach anyone (PERIOD)! Any teaching ability is a gifting from the Holy Spirit, and it represents a special anointing given to her from and by God.
I would like you to go back and read chapter 1 of Titus, because in this chapter it is talking about Bishops in the church. God and Paul are clearly talking about women teaching in a church setting and not in a private setting. So instead of denying women who are called of God the right to preach and teach, we should be smart enough to recognize when God is doing something and we should not fight against God. If God is not behind it, it will not matter who it is that is teaching or preaching because there will be no anointing from the Spirit of God and it will eventually fail. My Bible says that unless the Lord builds the house, those that build it labor in vain (Ps 127:1). So if God wants to use a woman, we better bow to the wisdom of God and keep our mouth closed while we learn. Please learn the lesson that people try to only apply to women, learn in silence and we might be amazed at what God says through a woman.
We could go through the Bible from the beginning to the end to find that women play an essential part of the design of God’s purpose for humans. God promises the first woman that it will be a woman and her seed that will bruise the head of Satan with her heel. Wow, that sounds significant. Then at the end of the Bible we find a “Wonder Woman” standing on the moon which is a symbolic representation for Satan with her heels on top. Wow, again! We are seeing that God chose to use a woman to do this job!
Then read through the rest of Bible in between Genesis and Revelation and you will find other women used by God for very significant purposes. To name a couple notice Esther. Without her fulfilling her purpose to become a Gentile king’s wife, there would probably be no nation of Israel. A woman was the center character used by God to accomplish this. Then without Ruth a Gentile Moabite who decided to have faith to leave her nation to join in covenant with her mother-in-law to move to Bethlehem, there may have not been a Grandmother to King David. Read the account about Deborah who was one of the Judges (rulers) during the book of Judges. These are just a few of the women that are noteworthy to from. But there are other noteworthy women of faith like Sarah. Sarah was directly mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, the Hall of Faith of noteworthy examples of Old Covenant people.
Let us review our key verse again that causes many to stumble in the light of what we have just read from other parts of the Bible:
1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
Let me ask you again, how can a woman keep silent and still prophesy? She can’t! How can a woman teach other women in the church and still keep silent? She can’t! Did you know the word translated as “usurp authority over” is only in the entire Bible this one time in this verse and no other places? According to Strong’s it means “a worker” who acts of themselves. Do you know this is wrong for anyone to do regardless of gender? To act of yourself means to be self-appointed and self-sufficient. This means to promote yourself and raise your own ability to a level above where you should be. Men are guilty of this more than women are guilty of it. So I do not know of any verse in the Bible that says that a woman cannot be called by God, appointed by God, promoted by God and made to be a blessing to others in the church? Today, God has already raised up and promoted several women in the church with large ministries that are way beyond many of the ministries of men on the earth. So please, let us become wise and recognize God’s perspective of truth and please LORD, help me not to judge the message given by the gender of the person delivering the message. Help me LORD, to study what is taught and just see if what is said was what You said in your Word! Help me to learn to see people as You see people and I believe You will be able to cause Your servants to stand or fall.
I’ll end this Bible lesson with an important instruction that God gave to one man and you see if it is something that applies to you also today:
1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Please do not become legalistic and bound by laws of limitations that put God in a box that claims a woman is unable to be used by the Almighty. Thank you for reading, studying and leaving me a comment if you care to. I love you all and I pray for all my readers that He will give unto you the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Amen.
Posted on September 12, 2010, in The Church and tagged Bible, Bride, Christianity, Church, Covenants, God, Holy Spirit, Interpretation, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, woman. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.